Steamboat lifeguards acted quickly in rescue |

Steamboat lifeguards acted quickly in rescue

Firefighters confident CPR was effective

— Lifeguards working Wednesday at the Old Town Hot Springs provided precious minutes of life support to a woman who went into cardiac arrest.

"They gave that woman a chance," said Mel Stewart, acting deputy fire chief of Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue.

Firefighters were called at about 4:30 p.m. to the hot springs facility near Third Street and Lincoln Avenue. When they arrived, CPR was being performed on a 64-year-old woman from Georgia.

Jill Ruppel, the hot springs' aquatics director, said lifeguard Samantha Schroeder noticed the woman making irregular movements in the main hot pool where the bridges are located. A swimmer helped check on the woman, and it soon became clear to Schroeder that something was wrong.

"She got into the water and turned her over so she could get air," Ruppel said.

The woman was brought out of the water with only a faint pulse, and lifeguard Max Walker helped with CPR. Lifeguards Amelia Light, Eddie Rogers and Jesse Brooks also were on duty.

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When firefighters arrived from the downtown station, the woman was not breathing and had no pulse. Guards were in the process of hooking up an automated external defibrillator, but it never was needed for treatment.

Stewart said firefighters are confident that the CPR administered to the woman was effective, and it allowed them to focus their efforts on advanced life support such as administering drugs. Firefighters inserted a breathing tube, and the woman's pulse returned.

"If they hadn't done the job that they had done of getting her out of the water quickly and starting CPR right away, she wouldn't have had a chance," Stewart said.

Eight firefighters and Steamboat Springs Police Department officers responded to the incident.

The woman was taken to Yampa Valley Medical Center and then flown to Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, where a spokeswoman said she was in critical condition Thursday.

It is unclear whether the woman will recover, but Stewart said she has a chance because of the work of the lifeguards.

"They were paying attention and saw there was an issue right away," Stewart said.

Ruppel said there had not been CPR performed on a person at the hot springs during the four years she has been there. Lifeguards must take a 30-hour lifeguard class that teaches CPR, first aid and how to use an AED. Additional training is ongoing.

"That training sticks in times of crisis," Ruppel said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email

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